Donations to charity hit a record £7.3bn last year, despite a climate of economic uncertainty, research published today shows.
This continues the rise in donations since 1997, when they began to recover from a sharp fall in the mid-1990s. But the figures reveal a dip in the proportion of the population donating last year - meaning charities are raising more money from fewer people.
The breakdown of who gives what and how, produced by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), also shows that both the amount donated and the number of donors vary by social class.
Those in classes A and B - the better paid professionals - are responsible for larger donations than white collar or manual workers in C1, C2, D or E.
But women continue to give more than men, despite earning less.
A small number of "elite givers" - 7.6% of donors - gave more than £50 a month, but the elite givers are responsible for more than 60% of the total amount donated during the year.
Those between ages 16-24 are still least likely to give, with the largest donations and greatest proportion of donors coming from the 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64 age bands.
NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington said: "British donors have shown themselves to be a resilient lot, who despite gloomy forecasts and widespread concerns about consumer finance, have just kept on giving."
The research shows that "street collections" are still the way that one in five donors - the biggest group - hands over their money. Door-to-door collections are close behind with 15.6% of donors.
But although these methods involve lots of people, they bring in just 6.4% of donations between them. Church collections, which involve 10.1% of donors, according to the report, raise an impressive 11.8% of the total collected, while pub collections involve 4.9% of donors but raise just 1.7%.
Sponsorship still brings in the highest proportion of donations, just topping churches at 11.9%, although only 7.9% of Britain's donors are still walking long distances, bathing in baked beans or bungee jumping to raise charity cash.
However the big growth area is partially hidden. Donation by standing order or direct debit, and face-to face fundraising by street collectors who sign up shoppers and commuters, are not listed separately.
Catherine Walker, head of research at CAF, said: "The surveys don't generally pick that up. But many charities say that it's one of their biggest fundraising methods."
NCVO's head of research, Karl Wilding, agreed: "If there is a trend it is the move from loose change to more planned giving."
The percentage of donations coming from direct debits or standing orders has risen from 12% in 2000 to 15.6% in 2002 - a 30% jump in just two years, "so it's definitely happening", he said. "For both sides it reflects a longer-term relationship, more involved."